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been aware of his conduct, they would doubtless have spurned and avoided him.
Their Master, however, was acquainted both with what he did, and with what he was; for it was on an occasion previous to this, that in re minding the disciples of his own strong claims on their attachment, he said, “Have not I chosen you twelve? and one of you is a devil !" Here, too, as we are informed, “he spake of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” And let it be observed, that neither the apostleship of Judas, nor his being the treasurer of the apostles, were causes of his avarice and treachery, and that therefore the knowledge which his Master possessed of his unsoundness is no excuse for it. If he had been a man of common goodness only, the trust which was reposed in him would have prompted him to a worthy exercise of it. Consequently it did not occasion, it only was the means of drawing forth and exposing his base
Why our Saviour, acquainted as he was with the character of Judas, permitted him to hold the office of purse bearer; or why he ever called him to be an apostle, are questions of a different import. Before we attempt to assign any reason or motive for the course of Jesus in this respect, let us attend for a moment to its consequences, and its bearing on the credibility of his gospel.
I have already stated, in my introductory remarks, that among the reasons which existed in the mind of our Lord, for calling to himself a company of apostles, one probably was, that his conduct and instructions, being scrutinized by a number of individuals, and continually spread open to their observation, might be sufficiently attested and vindicated, at first to them, and afterwards to the world. This test was made more perfect by the introduction of one among his attendants, whose heart was corrupt, and who would probably turn to as bad account as possible the confidence reposed in him. Thus we see that the inquisition to which the author of our religion was exposed, was a complete one. The honest disciples would have published any thing which they might have seen inconsistent with rectitude; and the traitor, the unprincipled disciple, would have magnified any fault or misconduct in his Master, if he could have found any there, as an excuse for his treachery. We ought not to be too hasty in ascribing motives to our Saviour in so grave a concern as this; but with the facts before us, we cannot but feel satisfied that his character rests on a firmer basis, from having been thus laid open to the search of a wicked spy, and that his religion derives advantage from the scrutiny. And it is to be repeated, that the apostolic call did not make Judas a thief and a traitor ; it found him one already; and if ever any man had the opportunity of reformation offered him, it certainly was he, who daily heard the instructions of heaven, and beheld the example of perfection. We may conclude, therefore, that it was for the satisfaction of all future ages, for our conviction of the faultlessness of Jesus Christ, that Judas was made an apostle.
Commentators and harmonists disagree upon the question, whether the supper at Bethany was the same as that mentioned by Matthew, as having been given in the house of Simon the leper. There are some circumstances common to both, and some peculiar to each. Macknight is confident that they were two distinct occurrences. A few of his arguments I will here repeat, which may lead the reader to further investigations.
“Although this supper (John xii. 2.) is supposed by many to have been the same with that mentioned in Matt. xxvi. 6., upon examination they will appear to have been different. This happened in the house of Lazarus; that, in the house of Simon the leper. At this, Mary, the
sister of Lazarus, anointed our Lord's feet, and wiped them with her hair; at that, a woman, not named, poured the ointment on his head. Here Judas only found fault with the action ; there he was seconded by some of the rest. It seems all the disciples but Judas had let his first anointing pass without censure. But when they saw so expensive a compliment repeated, and that within a few days the one of the other, they joined with him in blaming the woman, and might think themselves warranted to do so, as they knew that their Master was not delighted with luxuries of any kind.” Again he says: “The anointing, after which Judas bargained with the priests, happened only two days before the Passover, and consequently was different from that mentioned by John, which was six days before that solemnity.”
“Thus it evidently appears,” he proceeds, “ that our Lord was anointed with spikenard three different times during the course of his ministry; once in the house of Simon the Pharisee, once in the house of Lazarus, and once in the house of Simon the leper. That this honor should have been done him so often, needs not be thought strange; for in those countries it was common at entertainments to pour fragrant oils
on the heads of such guests as they designed to distinguish with marks of extraordinary respect. The custom is alluded to, Psal. xlv. 7. “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.' Where this piece of civility was showed, it was an expression of the highest complacency, and produced great gladness in the person who was the object of it.”
The answer of our Lord to the covetous remark of his disciple, is narrated as follows. “ Then said Jesus, Let her alone; against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” That is, '“ Suffer this woman to perform her pious work, and molest her not. She is anointing me for my burial; for I know that my hour is at hand, and that the grave is ready
Let her alone; it is the last testimony of her gratitude; it is the last mark of affection and reverence which I shall receive on earth; why then should it be called too costly? The claims of the poor are just and strong; I, surely, have never taught you to slight them; but the poor remain with you, and you will have abundant opportunity to relieve them; I am about to depart from you, and go to my Father."